MightyMerchant

Why Hire a Professional Web Design and Development Company?

Image Why Hire a Professional Web Design and Development Company?
By Vanessa Salvia

You’ve got a great business idea and you’re ready to build a website. You’ve read a few books on web design and development, maybe even designed pages for yourself or your friends in the past. They look pretty good and though you’re not a professional, you know you have skills and don’t feel like you need to hire anybody to do what you can do yourself. You figure you’ll get traffic and save a pile of money. While that may be true, there’s a good chance you would be shortchanging yourself and your business’s profits if you feel this way. The investment in a professional web development company really can pay off in increased sales on your site. Is it worth it to pay someone to design a website for you when there are so many options for doing it yourself? Yes! And there are a lot of reasons why.

What Does It Really Take?

There’s a lot of time involved. It is a large undertaking to develop a professional website and keeping the site up-to-date is tedious and time-consuming. How much is your time worth, and isn’t it better spent in business development- not website development?

Packages are usually pretty cheap, but they are not always complete. A do-it-yourself package for $99 probably won’t include all of the tools you need to finish the job. It may not adequately highlight the variety of products or services you offer. It certainly won’t offer you very many (if any) options for customizing your site. If you buy a package, make sure you understand what this package really includes and what its limitations are.

An experienced development company has a wealth of knowledge about how to build e-commerce systems, and unless you are the type of person who likes to learn by trial and error, a professionally developed site can save you many frustrations and missteps. Truly understanding what makes web visitors stay around and buy takes advanced development skills, time devoted to research, reading trade journals, even an understanding of where people’s eyes fixate on a page of text or advertising image! Most businesses will get a much higher return on their investment by leaving that level of expertise to professional developers.

There are several important factors to consider in developing successful websites. One of them involves SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is a critical aspect to your success. To design a site that looks good and also performs well in the engines is not a trivial task. Many template-based systems produce sites that are not well-suited for search engines, and they offer you no options for improvement. You’re stuck with the format it gives you, and usually this is barely adequate, not to mention far from optimized.

A professional will know how to structure the site to make it visitor friendly and design the site to make the most of web technology. A good site is easy for visitors to navigate. Customers also want on-site search ability. Shopping and credit card processing should be hassle-free. A good web designer will have knowledge in all of those areas plus know about other factors like cross-selling and up-selling, updating content, and general ease of use.

If your site does not have a base set of features, functionality and professionalism, customers will notice, and they will look for what they want elsewhere. E-commerce is very sophisticated these days, and customers are much more savvy than they used to be. It is so easy to move to another site if the one you are looking at is confusing, doesn’t work or doesn’t impart trust. Most of the time, customers know they have a lot of choices about where to take their business. A good design, encompassing SEO, ease of navigation, on-site search, ease of shopping, credit card processing, cross-selling/up-selling, updating content easily, and general usability, will help retain visitors and increase sales.

Good design runs a lot deeper than making a pretty image, and we don't recommend simply paying a lot of money for a fancy design. It is true that a pretty design by itself will not produce more sales for you, but customers do respond positively to a professional, great-looking site. Many designers can make a visually exciting page presentation that looks great, but a fancy design alone probably won’t move your product.

MightyMerchant designers work in the e-commerce industry. We know how the business works and what gets attention. We take the time to get to know you and your business needs so that you can get the personal attention your business deserves. The designer you pick should have strong knowledge of the e-commerce process and understand the subtle details of how you want to sell your products online. The benefit to you and the success of your site can be enormous.

Still Committed To Do-It-Yourself?

If you’ve read this far and you are still considering designing your website yourself, here is an outline of the two basic approaches to do-it-yourself, with the pros and cons of each.

The first approach would be to purchase a web design template and modify it to suit your business. If you need e-commerce, sign up for a product like Mal’s e-commerce (a free shopping cart service), or Paypal ‘buy-it-now’ buttons. This can be a good choice, depending on your situation. People who would use this solution are ‘hobbyists’ who want to spend time learning, who want to keep costs as low and possible, and who don’t have big expectations for their site. This could be a way to dabble in a business idea with low startup costs before moving to a more robust solution if they decide to get serious. This solution suffers from all of the drawbacks we’ve already discussed, such as noticeable canned templates, lots of time spent and lack of optimization.

A second option would be to use a packaged e-commerce product like Yahoo! Stores or Monster Commerce and use one of their preset templates. Preset templates are cheap. The benefit of using this type of product is that you do get advanced functionality out of the box (including important features like a site manager, order manager, and shipping integration). The disadvantage is that the site doesn’t look professional or work smoothly. Another disadvantage is that your site is identical to hundreds of other sites. This creates a new challenge of trying to stand out to both customers and search engine crawlers. The monthly costs of this approach are still high. You can get more out of this type of solution by hiring a designer to customize the package, but then you are also looking at much higher costs.

What Makes MightyMerchant Different?

With MightyMerchant you get a professional custom design ... and a whole lot more. You get a team of knowledgeable experts ready to guide you through the process of doing business online. We’ve been helping other people reach their highest business potential for 15 years, and we can help you, too!

MightyMerchant has a wealth of experience in customizing the product displays to match the type of products being sold, and designing the overall shopping experience to best suit the product. Here are some examples of real MightyMerchant clients, showing how a professionally-designed site can show off your products to their best advantage.

www.alliedbingo.com


This screen shows Alliedbingo’s “daubers,” which are used to mark the numbers on a bingo card. In one compact layout shoppers can select many color options for a specific dauber, and the site owner can specify pricing and quantities of each. Shoppers don’t have to click on each color individually to get ordering information. As shoppers scroll down the screen, other dauber products are featured with the same easy ordering by color and quantity of each.

www.menushoppe.com





Menushoppe sells a wide variety of menu covers to restaurants, with complex pricing and product options. Ordering is simple, however. Link from the home page to “Restaurant menu covers with clear panels,” for example, and all on one page shoppers can select multiple options which affect price, combined with an easy-to-see graduated pricing system based on the quantity ordered. There are also menus to order different add-on features, which may or may not affect the final price. This business is in the process of further consolidating their site design, making ordering even easier.

www.capwholesalers.com



Capwholesalers.com sells a wide variety of caps and hats, from knit to baseball, also with a complex pricing scheme and many options. The hats are priced by the dozen and also individually. One great feature about this site is that a customer can enter the number of items and the shopping cart will automatically calculate the correct price for them. For instance, 26 hats equals pricing for 2 dozen plus 2 individual hats, automatically calculated from the choices the customer selects.

www.pinkbytheharbor.com




This company sells clothing with many fabric, color and sizing options, and chose a website design demonstrating a commonly requested and important feature. Some items are available only in certain sizes. Sometimes the choice of fabric affects both the available sizing and the final price. In one convenient layout, selection of one option will change the choices that are available in the other menu.

Ask Around, Check Us Out

We have many other examples of important ways website design affects the overall shopping experience. Don’t take our word for it, though, if you still feel the cost of hiring professionals outweighs the benefits. We encourage you to talk with people who are using do-it-yourself systems. Ask how much revenue they are actually generating from their sites, and if they are happy with the results. MightyMerchant has happy customers! We encourage people to read the testimonials on our site and contact our customers. Many of our customers have switched to MightyMerchant from other solutions and are pleased with the results.

You could look at this decision like hiring professional electricians to wire a new home you’re building. Most people wouldn’t even consider attempting an electrician’s job on their own. The skills required to do a good job take years of trained experience to acquire. It would cost less, but the money saved doing a wiring job yourself would not be a good place to cut corners in a budget!

You might get by with a basic do-it-yourself package, spending $100 to $200 dollars. Add in the “hidden” financial costs of buying software and upgrades to modify the templates, lost sales due to poor design, and your time spent, and the cost to you will actually be much higher. With MightyMerchant, you might spend $1000 to $2000, but it’s an investment that will pay off immediately and for years to come. The value of getting MightyMerchant’s expertise working for you, with a site that is ready for customers, lets you focus on business development, not web development. And unlike the do-it-yourself deals, our help won’t stop once your website is built. For the next 5 to ten years we are committed to working with you to help build your business. We look at this as if we are long-term partners, in a relationship committed to your business success. No package can give you that peace of mind.

About MightyMerchant


MightyMerchant specializes in developing e-commerce and database driven, content-rich websites for small business customers across the US. The company was listed as one of Practical eCommerce Magazine’s “Top 100 Notable Shopping Carts” in September/October 2007. Hundreds of site owners use MightyMerchant to quickly and easily manage their online stores. For more information visit www.mightymerchant.com, and for ecommerce knowledge and tools visit the MightyMerchant eCommerce Blog.

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